Tuesday, 8 April 2014
Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to welcome Theresa Rizzo on the blog. Theresa has very kindly written a guest post for us about her writing journey and her latest book Just Destiny. A very interesting post. Thank you Theresa.
Thanks for having me on Brook Cottage Books.
I graduated from college with a BS in Nursing—but I didn’t like it much and didn’t use it long before quitting to raise our brood. I really had no career ambitions; I always wanted to be the perfect stay-at-home mother and wife—at least that’s what I thought I wanted.
Unfortunately, midway through raising my four kids, I was shocked and disheartened to find that I wanted more from life. Let’s face it . . . parenting is HARD –often thankless—work. I got burned out.
Friends and family really enjoyed my annual Christmas letter where I recounted our family exploits, so I thought maybe I would try writing a book. It was something fun I could do around the children’s schedules.
Learning to write was doing something intellectual and creative, and it allowed me to breathe again and find me. Writing fed my soul and allowed me to be a happier person, hence a better mom and wife. It was a win-win.
I didn’t take any writing classes per say, but I’ve been learning the craft of writing for the past 18 years. Every year I go to two to five writer’s conferences, I’m a member of four different writing organizations, I co-coordinate the Crested Butte CO Writers Conference and have run The Sandy writing contest for seven years.
Workshops at writers conferences are an amazing way to learn from authors who are currently selling, and agents and editors. It’s a great way to network with other writers and industry professionals. The writer organizations do an amazing job of educating authors both in the craft and business of writing.
My first book has never seen the light of day and never will. In fact I can’t even tell you what I named it—just that it was trite and bad. My second book was a romantic suspense that was a much stronger story.
I entered it in writing contests and though it did quite well, was never picked up by an agent. My debut book, He Belongs to Me was the next book I wrote and it too did really well in contests, but never sold. Then I wrote my current release, Just Destiny.
I found a great NY agent who shopped it around, then helped me through a revision and sent it out to editors again. Though she believed there was a market for this book, she couldn’t convince editors it was so.
So we amicably parted ways and I wrote my next women’s fiction book, The Lives Between Us, which I’ll be releasing this fall. I entered this book in the prestigious international Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and it made it to the top 100 out of 5-7,000 books—but didn’t make that cut to top 10.
Once again I found a different great literary agent to represent TLBU and after two rounds of frustrating submissions . . . she couldn’t sell it. She told me I should self-publish. She strongly believed there was a market for this book, but because the story was equal parts romance and legal drama she felt publishers shied away from it.
So I did. However, I felt He Belongs to Me would be a better book for my debut because it has a stronger romance in it and romance readers account for more than 52% of al fiction buyers. So I felt I would be best served to put out that book first and then move to a book with a lot less romance and more controversial issues.
So that’s my eighteen-year long, frustrating journey. To be honest, I don’t have any regrets and wouldn’t do anything very much differently.
I’m not sad it took so long to hold my book in my hands because through writing contests and editorial and agent submissions, I got a LOT of professional feedback that helped make these books immeasurably stronger than they would have been, say, five years ago.
I lament writers who don’t make the time to really learn the craft well and rush to publish books prematurely.
Also, my long journey gave me the opportunity to meet tons of amazing writers, editors, agents, publicists etc and to me, that’s the other blessing in my story. Writers are amazing, generous, fun people!
Right now, I LOVE seeing the way readers interpret and appreciate my stories and love being able to chat with readers through your blogs and Facebook.
Writing keeps enriching my life and I'm very fortunate to be able to do this.
About Theresa Rizzo
Theresa Rizzo is an award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty years. She’s raised four wonderful children who are now scattered across the country.
Theresa’s debut book, He Belongs to Me was a finalist in the General Fiction Category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards! Her second book, Just Destiny, will be released March 31, 2014.
Find Theresa on the web at www.theresarizzo.com, or connect with her on Facebook, twitter or Goodreads.